Do the Detroit Lions even need a dominate running back in the backfield in order to be successful? According to their upcoming opponents, the answer is no.
November 28, 2013. Just over four years ago. That’s how long’s it’s been since the Detroit Lions had a running back rush for more than 100 yards in a ball game. Running back Reggie Bush racked up 117 yards on 20 carries in a 40-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers back in Week 11 of the 2013 NFL regular season.
Jim Caldwell was hired as the Lions’ new head coach the very next season. Under his tenure, the Motor City has amassed a record of 33-26 (55.9%) and two playoff appearances. They have also failed to commit to any sort of consistent running game.
But that’s not due to a lack of trying. In 2015, the Lions invested a second round selection in Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah. Earlier this year, Detroit signed Pro Bowl guard T.J. Lang and tackle Ricky Wagner to pricey free agent contracts in order to beef up their offensive line. Unfortunately, all three of these moves have had mixed-to-disappointing results so far.
But according to the Lions’ upcoming opponents, the Baltimore Ravens, the fact Detroit hasn’t posted a 100-yard rusher in four years isn’t a shock. In fact, they believe the Lions simply utilize those rushing opportunities in other ways.
"“I think that when you look at the way you guys play, it’s not too surprising,” Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco told the Detroit Free Press. “I mean, I think the bottom line is, is you want to have successful plays as an offense and really no matter how you do that, it doesn’t matter … There’s different ways you can run the ball without actually handing the ball off. You can throw screens and you can get the ball in the backs’ hands out of the backfield. A lot of those things work in similar ways.”"
Detroit certainly likes to throw to their running backs, especially with a receiving threat like Theo Riddick in the backfield. In fact, the Lions’ backs have recorded a combined 53 receptions for 439 yards and three scores so far this season. Adversely, they’ve only rushed for 861 yards and four scores through the first 11 games.
Although, if there was a team in which the Motor City might be able to bolster theri first 100-yard rusher in four years, it might be against the Baltimore Ravens. Although the Ebony Birds ranked second in pass defense, they are a lowly 23rd against the run, allowing 115.8 rushing yards per game to opponents.